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August 31, 2017

At Adelphi University, a New Master of Science in Physics With a Concentration in Optics and Master of Science in Math and Computer Science

tight-focus photo of a scientist wearing goggles, using optics equipment, conducting an experiment

Today’s job market demands technology skills that are ever-changing, and universities can struggle to keep up with what the market, and students, need.

That’s why Adelphi University is offering three new master’s degree programs in innovative fields with real-world applications: a Master of Science in Physics with a concentration in optics; a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics and Statistics; and a Master of Science in Computer Science with specialization in cybersecurity, software engineering and game development.

“These students will be prepared yesterday,” says Kees Leune, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics and computer science.

Master of Science in Physics With a Concentration in Optics

Optics is the branch of physics involving the properties and behavior of light, including the construction of instruments that use or detect it.

What in today’s world uses optics? “Pretty much everything,” says Sean J. Bentley, Ph.D., associate professor of physics and optics.

The internet is connected through fiber optics. Every branch of medicine, from laser surgery to spinal imagery to colonoscopy and endoscopy, uses optics. Everything with microchips—our cellphones, iPads and tablets—utilizes optical technology. LED lights (which use optics) have become increasingly popular. Even the scanners in our grocery stores use optics.

“It’s pretty much pervasive,” Dr. Bentley says, noting that there are great job opportunities in fields from telecommunications to medicine to big industrial labs.

There are only a few places in the country offering such programs, and graduates have been highly successful. Research shows an increase of some 30 percent in salary with an M.S. in Physics with a concentration in optics, Dr. Bentley says. “It’s a great opportunity to go straight into the workforce,” he says.

Adelphi’s is a “4+1″ program, meaning an accelerated bachelor’s program with an added year for the master’s, instead of the six or seven years typically needed to earn both. Next year, sophomores can declare their intention to enter the program, which will begin in Fall 2018, with the first master’s degree students slated to graduate in 2022.

Dr. Bentley, who founded Adelphi’s quantum and nonlinear optics laboratory in 2003, is excited about the new program. “Being a small department focused on this will allow us to have hands-on training for the students.”

Master of Science in Applied Mathematics and Statistics

No statistician should have to say “hang on, I’ll look that up” because he or she didn’t learn a broad foundation of statistics. That’s why the master’s degree in statistics is unique: Unlike other programs, students will be introduced to all branches of statistics instead of specializing in only one field of study.

“That would mean no matter what problem you have to solve using statistics they will have the knowledge to solve it,” says professor Salvatore J. Petrilli ’05, Ed.D., associate professor and chair of Adelphi’s Computer Science and Mathematics Department. Graduates of the two-year master’s program (in either applied mathematics or statistics) can find work in a variety of fields, including:

  • Industry
  • Financial mathematics
  • Data mining or analysis
  • Scientific computing
  • Actuarial sciences

On the applied mathematics track, each student will participate in a yearlong seminar on a current hot topic in the industry, in “whatever branch of applied mathematics is hot or the industry needs to focus on,” he says, such as optimization or mathematical finance. There’s also an opportunity to work with Brookhaven National Laboratory, also on Long Island, which just formed a partnership with Adelphi. “They have a lot of data and equipment that they’ll open up to our graduate students.”

For the statistics track, students will complete a cumulative project in their field of interest and become acquainted with a statistics consultant. “They will have an opportunity to put their learning into practice,” Dr. Petrilli says.

Both tracks are very data-driven. “What’s the science of using data and making informed decisions? That is what is at the heart of every meaningful decision.”

Master of Science in Computer Science With Specialization in Cybersecurity, Software Engineering and Game Development

Computers should be a tool in business, not the decision makers themselves.“What computers do is manipulate numbers, and in many cases, those numbers are used for decision making,” says Dr. Leune. “If you want to make decisions based on data, we have to understand the science of the data.” Students in Adelphi’s new computer science master’s degree program will learn data science, he says.

“One of the fastest-growing fields is data science—that means analyzing the data we have,” Dr. Leune says. “We have so much data we don’t know what to do with it or how to manipulate it.”

After their first semester, students, who must hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, choose one of three tracks: cybersecurity, software engineering or game development (which will launch a bit later than Fall 2018, the other tracks will). Game development is a bit broader than “creating the next Super Mario Brothers,” Dr. Leune says, noting that the course includes work with augmented and virtual reality.

The cybersecurity track will focus on defense. “Our goal is to create great cyber defenders,” he says—people who will become chief information officers. “They understand what the threats are and where they’re coming from, so their companies are not at risk for breaches and compromises.”

The track will have an analytic approach: “How do we identify what those threats are, how do they connect to the infrastructure and how can we defend against those threats so we are not being victimized?”


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